Friday, October 31, 2008

Newest Submarine USS New Hampshire Receives Commissioning at Shipyard

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist

The USS New Hampshire has sailed down the Piscataqua River, taking another step toward becoming a working member of the fleet.
New Hampshire, a Virginia Class submarine, was officially commissioned Saturday at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She is the fifth in the Virginia class and the fourth Navy vessel to carry the state’s name.
The boat’s sponsor is Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth who lost her husband, Tom, a Navy veteran, on Sept 11, 2001. He was the co-pilot of the hijacked American Airlines plane that crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
John P. Casey, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat that built the New Hampshire, said McGuinness was “an inspiration to us all” and noted that the New Hampshire was delivered under budget and early.
It was Mrs. McGuinness’ honor to be the one who called the ship’s crew onto the newly commissioned ship at the close of the ceremonies.
“Thank you for this honor,” she said. “It is truly a privilege.”
She said, “We appreciate you very much” for “putting your lives and dreams on the line” and reminded the crew that when they are at sea “we’re standing with you. We celebrate you, our heroes.”
She then offered the simple order, “Crew of New Hampshire, come aboard and bring this ship to life.”
The commissioning took place across the river from Portsmouth and in the area where the first United States Navy ship, the Ranger, was built.
Cmdr. Michael Stevens, New Hampshire’s captain, said it was fitting that the commissioning of this “remarkable warship” should take place “in a historic location.”
Cmdr. Stevens is a native of Tacoma, Wash., and a 1990 graduate of the Naval Academy. He has served on the USS San Francisco, the USS Alaska, and the USS Kamehameha. He assumed command of New Hampshire (SSN778) on Sept. 5, 2007.
Stevens said the first vessel was manned by young volunteers, just like the USS New Hampshire, and said his crew is “in many ways like those who manned the Ranger” and contributed “to what was to become the world’s greatest sea power.
“I am honored and humbled to be their commanding officer,” he said.
Turning to Mrs. McGuinness, he said she was “a worthy sponsor” and the officers and men are “proud you have sponsored us.”
Adm. Kirkland Donald, director, Naval reactors, said the USS New Hampshire is “worthy of all the pomp and circumstance we can put into it (the ceremony)” and cited the state of New Hampshire as “a truly unique state.”
He said the officers and crew of the New Hampshire were “ready to take on the call to take the ship to sea and into Harm’s way. Our expectations are high, our confidence supreme.”
Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly, the commissioning officer, said since the Navy was established it has protected “freedom of the seas in the four corners of the earth” and all vessels, including the New Hampshire, serve “in the prevention of conflict while standing ready to respond in case of hostilities.
U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., was the keynote speaker and told the gathering of more than 2,500 that it was “a great honor to have this boat named after our state.”
He noted the history of the more than 200-year-old shipyard and said it was “absolutely appropriate this is being held in Portsmouth.”
The USS New Hampshire, an attack submarine, joins a fleet that already includes a submarine named for her sister state, Maine. The USS Maine is an Ohio Class submarine commissioned in the mid-1990’s.
Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also attended the ceremony.
The USS New Hampshire is 377 feet long and 34 feet wide, displacing 7,835 tons and travels through water faster than 25 knots. She can dive to depths greater than 800 feet.
She carries a payload of 40 weapons, including Tomahawk missiles and Mark 48 ADCAPO Torpedoes.
The other ships named New Hampshire included a battleship built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and launched in 1864. In 1904 she was renamed the Granite State to make room for the second New Hampshire, a battleship finished in 1906 in Camden, N.J. She was decommissioned in 1921.
The third New Hampshire, a Montana-class battleship, was authorized in 1940 but cancelled in 1943 before her keel was laid.
Caption: The crew of the USS New Hampshire line the the top of the submarine presently in the Piscataqua River. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Marshwood Middle School to hold Veteran’s Day Celebration

On November 7, 2008, Marshwood Middle School will commemorate its 7th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration. The school-wide assembly, which starts at 9:30 AM, features various tributes from our students and faculty to our local veterans. Last year over 170 veterans attended their gathering. Many veterans are invited by Marshwood students because they are grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors or community members who have served our country and/or active duty as full-time military or are part of active reserve units.
Local dignitaries including town officials and selectmen, local politicians such as past and present state representatives, school board members and members of the South Berwick, Eliot, Kittery and Berwick Fire, Emergency and Police Departments will also attend the celebration to honor our veterans. All guests form a reception line at 9 AM down the corridor to the entrance of the gymnasium (where the celebration will be held). As students are called down to the celebration, they enter the reception line and greet our guests with handshakes and small talk. The reception line emphasizes a personal touch for every student to actually meet our guests and sets the respectful tone of our event.
As everyone gathers in the gym, patriotic music will play on the sound system. Once everyone is seated, the veteran guests will enter. For the next hour, various tributes are presented to the guests in form of song, music, poem, readings, power point presentations and writing.
Our school is made up of six communities (two per grade level). Each community presents a tribute at the assembly. Academic teachers in these communities work with students and are necessary to make this celebration occur. The teachers have been very supportive with their time, energy and creativity which is reflected in the tributes presented by the children. After the event, there is a reception in the library.
It is extremely important for students to understand the sacrifices made by our veterans. The veterans are touched by the sincerity and respect and enjoy the school-wide assembly. We all take our freedom for granted. This celebration encourages us to remember that “Freedom is never free.”